December 25, 2010

Dec. 25: Profundity in the absurdity


By Tamara Shantz, assistant campus pastor and apartment manager
SCRIPTURE: John 1:1-18 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.


One of my favorite television shows is the BBC’s The Vicar of Dibley, which follows the life and adventures of the first female priest in a fictional little village in England. In one of the show’s Christmas specials, the parish hosts a carol-writing competition with the winning new carol to be sung at the Christmas Eve service.

In typical fashion for this eccentric little town, the winner has crafted a song describing the birth of Jesus in detail – from ‘coming down the birth canal’ to the cutting of the umbilical cord. The song is hilarious because we would never consider it appropriate to reflect upon the details of birthing in a Christmas sermon or traditional carol. And yet, there is something remarkably profound in the absurdity. For it is precisely through the ‘ordinary’ miracle of birth, the pain of labor, the cry of new life, that God offers us salvation.

Through the person of Mary, the Word has become flesh. And this mystery, this mystery of the incarnation, of God being with us, is, in one sense, absurd. But it is also deeply beautiful and worthy of our praise.

The Celtic Christian tradition invites us to look for God by looking more deeply into life. On this Christmas day, I hope that we look intently for the mystery and wonder of Jesus’ birth, for the beauty of this world that God creates anew each day, and for those moments of profound absurdity!

SCRIPTURE: John 1:1-18 (NRSV)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

(John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

Thank you to every one of you for joining us this Advent season as we waited once more for the coming of the Christ child. It is our prayer that in the days to come you will continue to slow down, see the many ways God is calling each of us to “the unexpected hour,” and begin to understand God’s timing and imagination for transforming this world.

Join us again for the season of Lent in 2011 when the devotions by Goshen College students, faculty and staff will start on Ash Wednesday, March 9. Unless you unsubscribe, they will automatically be sent to you. If you have found these of value, please share them with your friends and family.

Blessings and peace to you in the coming year!



Comments (3)

  1. Thank you for sharing the devotionals. It is good to have frequent reminders of the true meaning of Advent (and Lent) and to dig a little deeper into the familiar passages of scripture.

    Alice H Jantzen December 26, 2010 |
  2. I searched the internet for Advent devotionals in early Dec. Yours was the best! Thanks to all students and
    staff who took the time to share your thoughts. Your
    writings helped me keep my focus on Christ this Christmas.

    Della Smith December 30, 2010 |
  3. Thank you so much for these beautiful devotionals which have been so freely made available! I’m putting together an Advent devotional of articles, stories, and prayers at my college – and I’m wanting to include Ms Shantz’ article “Profundity in the Absurdity.” Her article was well written and thought-provoking. Spot on! :)

    Piepie Beuttel November 5, 2011 |